© 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC

Doesn’t Gal Gadot look awesome in Wonder Woman? But writers can do bad things even with good characters.

By Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

Wonder Woman, whose first live-action movie premieres June 2, is usually described as “beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, stronger than Hercules and swifter than Mercury.” But that hasn’t protected her from some really dumb stories over her 76-year history. Here’s a Top 10 List of Silly Wonder Woman Bits:

10. HAPPY HOLLIDAYS

One of the early additions to the Wonder Woman mythos were her quasi-sidekicks, the girls of Beeta Lamda sorority at Holliday College. Led by the comically rotund Etta Candy – whose favorite exclamation was “Woo! Woo!” – the otherwise lithe and athletic Holliday Girls arose from research into sorority initiations by psychologist and WW co-creator William Moulton Marston. He had attended a “baby party” (where pledges were required to wear baby clothes and undergo “punishment”), and apparently it left a deep impression.

9. MS. PRINCE, WE’RE NEEDED

In 1968, writer Denny O’Neil decided Diana didn’t need all those pesky super-powers, and reduced her to a karate fighter a la Emma Peel of TV’s The Avengers, complete with white jumpsuits. Just to make sure she was put properly in her place, she was mentored by a male – an old Chinese gentleman with the unlikely name I-Ching. Because, man, it was the ‘60s. You dig?

8. GLASS CEILING

After she got her powers back, Diana re-joined the Justice League. But before she could, she had to perform 12 labors, Hercules fashion, to show she still had the right stuff.

Would the League do that to Superman? Batman? Of course not. Heck, they haven’t even done it to Green Arrow, who’s quit and re-joined approximately 43 zillion times. And he takes a bow and arrow to gunfights.

It was presented as her choice, but it was nonsense. Even in the Justice League, a woman has to be 12 times better than a guy to get the same job.

7. HIS GIRL FRIDAY

Before the Justice League, there was the legendary Justice Society of America, which united the greatest superheroes of two publishers in 1940. Naturally, it wasn’t long after Wonder Woman’s 1941 debut that Hawkman, chairman of the JSA (renamed “Justice Battalion” during the war) invited the Amazing Amazon to join their prestigious group … to take the minutes.

“Wonder Woman, the members of the Justice Battalion feel that even though you’re now an honorary member, we’d like you to act as our secretary,” announced the Winged Wonder in 1942.

“Why,” replied Diana, who could probably have twisted Hawkman into origami, “that’s quite an honor!”

 

6. WANT FRIES WITH THAT?

For a little while in the ‘90s, Diana worked in a fast-food joint called Taco Whiz.

I can’t even.

Copyright DC Entertainment Inc.

You’d think someone who was good friends with Bruce Wayne could make one phone call and never have to work again. Or at least she could get a job where “flying” and “super-strength” are requisites. (Art by Brian Bolland) 

5. FIT TO BE TIED

Marston brought a lot of positive qualities to his brainchild: a belief in the power of love, a faith in the equality (or superiority) of women, a desire to give girls a strong role model. He also had a keen interest in bondage, which made it into early Wonder Woman stories, too.

Now, getting captured and tied up is an occupational hazard in adventure stories, especially in the 1940s. But Wonder Woman Unbound author Tim Hanley did a comparative analysis of the first 10 issues of Batman, Captain Marvel Adventures and Wonder Woman – and found the number of times restraints were used in the Amazon’s stories to be, in comparison to the other two, “colossal.”

Hanley found that, on average, Batman and Captain Marvel Adventures depicted folks tied up 3 percent of the time – compared to 27 percent in Wonder Woman. And while the Amazing Amazon herself was only bound for 40 percent of the total – everyone was fair game in a Marston story – it was still women who were tied up a full 84 percent of the time.

I guess we should have gotten a hint from the fact that Wonder Woman’s chief weapon is a rope.

 

4. POLLY PARADOX

In 1986, a new origin established Diana as in her twenties, not in her five-hundred-and-twenties. So who was in all those Wonder Woman comics going back to 1941? To solve this dilemma, writer/artist John Byrne dressed Diana’s mother Hippolyta in the iconic costume and sent her back in time to fill in. The JSA called her “Polly.”

Which is weird, because Hippolyta has been alive since ancient Greece – she didn’t have to go back in time to be in World War II. She was already there.

You’d think people would notice a thing like that.

 

3. SHORT STORIES

In the early 1960s, DC began running stories of Wonder Woman when she was a baby. She was called “Wonder Tot,” and met genies, monsters and mer-people, as you do.

She also met herself as a teenager and an adult for a number of stories, initially as a result of Hippolyta splicing old family movies together. These were called “Impossible Tales,” likely because they were.

 

2. BIRDS AND BEES (AND FISH)

Also in the early ‘60s, DC began running stories of Wonder Woman as a teenager. These “Wonder Girl” stories featured the Amazing Adolescent dating the sort of boys who were available around Paradise Island, which didn’t allow (human) males. Specifically, that would be Ronno the Mer-Boy and Wingo the Bird-Boy.

Ronno was from a race of people who were fish from the waist down. Wingo was from a race of people who were birds from the waist down.

Do I need to explain what’s wrong with this picture?

Copyright DC Entertainment Inc.

One odd choice in 1960s Wonder Woman comics was to have teenage Diana date outside her species. (Art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito) 

 

1. WHO’S THE BABY DADDY?

Long-running comics characters often have details of their history changed or updated. But even by that standard, Wonder Woman’s past is amazingly fluid.

Some things remain somewhat standard. Diana’s powers always come from the Greco-Roman gods, either as gifts or genetics. Her mission remains constant: to bring peace to “man’s world.” She’s always the daughter of Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons.

But her daddy? Well, usually she doesn’t have one – in most origins, she’s a clay statue brought to life by the gods.

In 1959, though, writer Robert Kanigher (briefly) gave her a real father, later revealed as some dude named Theno, who was lost at sea. In fact, in that story, all the Amazons had husbands, but “all the men … wiped out … in the wars,” moaned Hippolyta. “Woe is us …” one Amazon replied, rather un-Amazonly. “We are … alone … now – !”

Alone – and talking like William Shatner. Oh, the humanity!

In 2011, another story established Diana as the daughter of Zeus – which made her related to a lot of the folks she’d been fighting for 60 years! It was writer Brian Azzarello’s intent to make the gods supporting characters, referring to the Olympians as “the original crime family.”

Currently Wonder Woman’s origin is being re-written once again. I’m giving “clay statue” 2-to-1 odds.

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I must have been at just the right age during the first half of the 1960s because I always liked Wonder Woman from that time period.  I must have been in the appropriate silliness sweet spot.  The stories have their own internal logic and flow.  It all works if you consider Paradise Island to be at the nexus of a number of weird, fantastic dimensions; anything can happen and it just seems like a normal day.

Also, I think we overlook an important aspect of those issues.  I think Wonder Woman is best thought of as a team book as opposed to the adventures of a single character.  It was a team consisting of Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, Queen Hippolyta, Wonder Tot, Wonder Girl, Bird Boy/Man, and Mer-Boy/Manno.  For a kid, the more super characters the better.  This was all lost with the jump back to the Golden Age.

With the jump to the Golden Age we get the return of some of the classic villains.  Too bad they couldn't have just been updated for contemporary stories.  But even the silliest villains could have been made to work.  Who is sillier than Egg Fu ?  But even Egg Fu could work.  Take away the offensive stereotype and what are you left with?  MODOK.  No reason why that couldn't have worked.  Of course, a name change would be in order. Egg Man (silly but who cares).  Mr. Egg.  Egghead (the best choice -- would Marvel really have gone to court over this?).

The SA WW could ride wind currents, which essentially served to allow her to fly, although it should've been different.  But it also allowed her to use the invisible plan when she wanted to.

I think the Invisible Plane would have looked kind of dorky in real life, with WW sitting in the air, unless they made it more glass-like. But she does need a way to get around easily in the JLA, especially since there's no GL to create bubbles. Maybe it'll show up in the sequel, which I'm sure they're working on right now.

I've heard it suggested that the setting was WWI to make it clear she's immortal. It also could've been because it was the first real mechanized war that involved most of the world. Maybe the sequel will bring her into WWII--and the JSA! Hey, it could happen.

As to the Treaty of Versaille, I always remember the Tom Lehrer lyric, "Once all the Germans were warlike and mean. But that couldn't' happen again! We taught them a lesson in 1918, and they've hardly bothered us since then."

I'm hoping to see it tomorrow, so I'll have more to say then. But every comics fan I know so far has raved about it.

-- MSA

Just to make sure everyone saw the same movie I did ...

ClarkKent_DC said:

  • Okay, so we're going with the "made from clay and brought to life with the blessings of the gods" origin. Good!

Actually, they went with "Diana was told the clay statue story but she was really created by Zeus" origin. Ares says, "A sword can't kill a god. It takes a god to kill a god. You're the god-killer Zeus created." She even calls him "brother" when she kills him.

The implication to me here is that it goes even farther than the Azzarello comics, in that Diana isn't the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus; she was created ex nihilo like Athena. That still makes her a "daughter" of Zeus, but not of Hippolyta. IOW, she's a god, not a demigod.

Philip Portelli said:

  • They portray the end of WWI as a good thing for everyone but it wasn't for the Germans. They were crippled by the Treaty of Versailles which would lead to the rise of National Socialism and Adolph Hitler.

Absolutely, and I assume that was Ares' plan. Remember, he was the British guy pushing for the treaty. He knew, unlike the puny humans, how the onerous strictures of the Treaty of Versailles would simply perpetuate the war. He even said his goal was "endless war." The Treaty was his way of doing it (and it worked)!


Philip Portelli said:

Also they spoke English. How? They were on that island millennia before English was developed, let only modern English!

Steve actually asked her once, and she said she spoke two hundred something languages. But why modern ones, if they don't know about guns? That's a good question. I can only speculate, but maybe they were aware of the modern world, but just didn't adopt modern weapons/machines from an aesthetic standpoint. Or maybe the presence of the lasso has something to do with it. Or maybe they didn't expect guns to work against Ares, so they had what they needed, and they didn't expect to be fighting Germans.

One critic (not on this site) said that it was a betrayal of feminism that the Amazons were created by a male god (Zeus) and not the troika of goddesses usually associated with Wonder Woman. First, I want to know where this critic was when baby Diana got her strength as a gift from Hercules in the Kanigher days. I mean, Hercules, of all people! Anyway, I think this critic missed the point in that ALL the gods and goddesses were killed by Ares, so there were none left but Zeus to create the Amazons. And since Ares killed Zeus and Diana killed Ares, Wonder Woman is now the last of the Greco-Roman gods!

Also, Philip points out that the Amazons seem unmoved by the possibility of Ares in the outside world. That's another good question. Again I have to turn to speculation, and I've got a couple. 1) The Amazons seemed unconvinced that the Great War was indeed the fault of Ares. Which leads to 2) They might have expected the last Greco-Roman god to show up in his full glory and not in mufti. Why wouldn't he, given Ares' ego? So they were probably keeping their powder dry until a guy in blue armor showed up. 3) They might have suspected it was Ares ... and they might not have cared. They really don't care much for "Man's World." Any of those work for me.

Oh no! You haven't seen it? Don't read this thread! It's full of spoilers!

And you're right -- a sequel is already in the works with, so far, Patty Jenkins still at the helm .



Mr. Silver Age said:

The SA WW could ride wind currents, which essentially served to allow her to fly, although it should've been different.  But it also allowed her to use the invisible plan when she wanted to.

I think the Invisible Plane would have looked kind of dorky in real life, with WW sitting in the air, unless they made it more glass-like. But she does need a way to get around easily in the JLA, especially since there's no GL to create bubbles. Maybe it'll show up in the sequel, which I'm sure they're working on right now.

I've heard it suggested that the setting was WWI to make it clear she's immortal. It also could've been because it was the first real mechanized war that involved most of the world. Maybe the sequel will bring her into WWII--and the JSA! Hey, it could happen.

As to the Treaty of Versaille, I always remember the Tom Lehrer lyric, "Once all the Germans were warlike and mean. But that couldn't' happen again! We taught them a lesson in 1918, and they've hardly bothered us since then."

I'm hoping to see it tomorrow, so I'll have more to say then. But every comics fan I know so far has raved about it.

-- MSA

Captain Comics said:

Just to make sure everyone saw the same movie I did ...

ClarkKent_DC said:

  • Okay, so we're going with the "made from clay and brought to life with the blessings of the gods" origin. Good!

Actually, they went with "Diana was told the clay statue story but she was really created by Zeus" origin. Ares says, "A sword can't kill a god. It takes a god to kill a god. You're the god-killer Zeus created." She even calls him "brother" when she kills him.

The implication to me here is that it goes even farther than the Azzarello comics, in that Diana isn't the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus; she was created ex nihilo like Athena. That still makes her a "daughter" of Zeus, but not of Hippolyta. IOW, she's a god, not a demigod.

 

I was going to bring that up in the next list of bullet points I still haven't had time to write ... 

A big reason I'm so pleased with Patty Jenkins' sure hand as the director was the big moment where Diana takes on a hail of bullets in No Man's Land to liberate a small town under siege. Problem was, the studio bigwigs didn't see it as necessary and she had to fight to get it in! (See here: " 'Wonder Woman' Director Patty Jenkins On How the Film's Most Memo...).

As they saw it, why would she do that and not go right to fighting the bad guy? But as Jenkins saw it, this was the moment Diana became Wonder Woman.

It was important because, although Diana had trained as a warrior since she was a little girl, she really had been playacting up to that point. But going through that village, she really saw what war is like, up close -- and saw the results when the combatants are using weapons more devastating than knives and swords and bows and arrows. Seeing the starving villagers, the demoralized soldiers, and knowing this stalemate had gone on for a full year, she had to act, and she had to act NOW.

So she climbs out of the trench, pulls out her sword and shield, and takes all that hostile fire. In so doing, Diana inspires the soldiers and villagers to fight, too. So, even more than being a hero, Diana is a leader. Well done. 

More about it here, from Vox: "Patty Jenkins Fought for One Scene in 'Wonder Woman' — and Conquer...

More to note on Patty Jenkins' work, from PopSugar: "4 'Wonder Woman' Scenes That Could Have Been Very Different If The...

Oh no! You haven't seen it? Don't read this thread! It's full of spoilers!

I realized that after reading something you said, so I stopped until I saw it, which was yesterday. I'd say it was far and away the best DCU movie, but that's saying nothing. But heck, they even made me like Wonder Tot!

And you're right -- a sequel is already in the works with, so far, Patty Jenkins still at the helm .

Actually, Patty Jenkins is not signed for the sequel. It's not a done deal that she'll be back. Why they didn't *at least* have a studio option for another movie is mind-boggling. But then, there's no sign of WW2 on any of the long-term schedules DC keeps putting out and then juggling. The workings of the DC suits are beyond my ken.

Bonus good news: Joss Whedon is doing 2+ months of reshoots on JLA (although he's supposedly following the "style and tone" of the Snyderverse) that could last into August. If the movie is really opening in November, I have to think these are mostly dialogue and character parts, as that's not much time to be adding more buildings falling down.

The reason it's significant here is that Queen Hippolyta and General Antiope have been added to the cast in the JLA reshoots. I have to think those will be flashbacks, right?

-- MSA

You're right, MSA, so let me correct the record. When I answered your other post, I thought Jenkins had been signed for a sequel because I'd read this article. And it said, "Although details are sparse, we know that both Jenkins and Gadot will return for the sequel. The titular character is also heading stateside for her second big screen appearance." (The link takes you to another story that said Jenkins would return.)

Then after I posted, I saw this Hollywood Reporter story: "'Wonder Woman' director not signed for sequel" I was heading here to correct my misapprehension, but you'd beaten me to it.

This explains to me whey I walked away admiring WW's smarts and strength instead of her beauty. There was no cheesecake! So, while I was aware of Gal Gadot's exceptional beauty, what really blew me away were the drama, action scenes and her acting (both emotional and physical).

ClarkKent_DC said:

More to note on Patty Jenkins' work, from PopSugar: "4 'Wonder Woman' Scenes That Could Have Been Very Different If The...

We finally saw the movie yesterday, and were suitably blown away.

Captain Comics said:

Actually, they went with "Diana was told the clay statue story but she was really created by Zeus" origin. Ares says, "A sword can't kill a god. It takes a god to kill a god. You're the god-killer Zeus created." She even calls him "brother" when she kills him.

When Hippolyta took young Diana into the room to “see” the godkiller, it hit me that SHE was the godkiller! Turns out I was right.

Absolutely, and I assume that was Ares' plan. Remember, he was the British guy pushing for the treaty. He knew, unlike the puny humans, how the onerous strictures of the Treaty of Versailles would simply perpetuate the war. He even said his goal was "endless war." The Treaty was his way of doing it (and it worked)!

Ares really plans ahead. Not only did WWI pave the way for Hitler* but the carving up of the Ottoman Empire resulted in much of the strife in the Middle East today. Along with the careless exploitation, they created separate countries without regard to ethnic boundaries. I realized when I saw his name in the credits that Ares was played by the same guy who plays the horrible V.M Varga on Fargo, David Thewlis.

*I’m really glad they didn’t include a young Corporal Hitler in the story. That would have been a major mistake.

Steve actually asked her once, and she said she spoke two hundred something languages. But why modern ones, if they don't know about guns? That's a good question. I can only speculate, but maybe they were aware of the modern world, but just didn't adopt modern weapons/machines from an aesthetic standpoint.

My take is that the Amazons studied the modern world but didn’t care to join it.

And since Ares killed Zeus and Diana killed Ares, Wonder Woman is now the last of the Greco-Roman gods!

I don’t remember Ares killing Zeus.

They should cast Chris Pine as Steve Trevor's great-great grand nephew...

(Wait for it!)

HAL JORDAN!!

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